Pittsburgh Steelers veteran outside linebacker James Harrison will miss his first game of the season Sunday when the team host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field and because of that, Arthur Moats will likely have to play some on the right side in the game to relieve starter Jarvis Jones.
“Well, if that has to happen. We have four outside linebackers. We’ll be ok,” said Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler on Thursday when talking about Moats and Bud Dupree potentially playing on the right Sunday. “Those guys have been over there before, especially Arthur. I don’t think that would be a problem for him and if we did do that, it would probably be Moats.”
When Jones sat out the Steelers Week 6 game against the Arizona Cardinals with a hip injury, Harrison, Moats and rookie Dupree were able to handle all of the snaps in the game as rookie Anthony Chickillo never saw the field on defense. In that game, we have Moats playing 25 snaps on the right side, Dupree down for 7 and Harrison down for the rest.
Regardless of who plays the most snaps on the right side Sunday against the Browns, it won’t be an easy task as that player will be going up against All-Pro tackle Joe Thomas most of the time. Thomas, as you would expect, is right in the middle of another great season as he’s only allowed two sacks, one quarterback hit and 18 hurries on the season.
On the flip side, Moats and Jones each only have 1.5 sacks on the season.
If there’s a bright side, Browns left guard Joel Bitonio will miss Sundays game with an ankle injury, so Thomas will be playing alongside rookie Cameron Erving, who will be making his first career start on Sunday. That’s a matchup the Steelers need to try to exploit on Sunday.